How to Support Neurodivergent Employees: Understanding Legal Requirements for UK Employers

Whilst neurodiversity itself is not a disability, it is a concept that recognises natural variations in the human brain. However, conditions like ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, and Tourette's syndrome, which fall under neurodiversity, can be considered disabilities in the UK. 

Under the Equality Act 2010, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment with a substantial, long-term adverse effect on daily activities. 

Neurodivergent conditions can meet this definition depending on their severity and impact. 

For example: 

  • Autism: Often considered a disability due to its effects on social interaction and communication. 
  • ADHD: Classified as a disability if it significantly affects daily activities and concentration. 
  • Dyslexia: Seen as a disability if it substantially impacts reading and writing skills. 
  • Dyspraxia: May be considered a disability if it affects coordination and motor skills. 
  • Dyscalculia: Classified as a disability when it significantly impacts mathematical abilities. 
  • Tourette's Syndrome: Considered a disability if it affects motor and vocal tics, impacting daily life. 

To ensure employees with neurodivergent conditions receive the support they need, UK law mandates specific legal requirements for employers. Understanding and adhering to these requirements not only helps avoid legal issues but also improves workplace morale and productivity. 

An added complication is that employees are not required to disclose their neurodivergent condition. They may choose not to share this information, often due to past judgments and bullying, and we cannot force them to do so. Employers should focus on understanding neurodiversity, having clear policies available to all, and ensuring leaders know how to provide reasonable adjustments for everyone - neurodiverse or not. 

Legal Requirements for Employers


So, what are the legal requirements? Please note, I am not a lawyer, but a neurodiversity expert. 

Employers in the UK are required to comply with the Equality Act 2010, which mandates that employers must not discriminate against employees or job applicants based on disability. 

This includes neurodivergent conditions such as ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and more. Employers must make reasonable adjustments to ensure that neurodivergent individuals can perform their roles effectively. This can include modifications to the workplace, providing additional support, or altering communication methods. Failure to make these adjustments or to address discrimination appropriately can lead to legal action and significant penalties, as evidenced by various recent employment tribunal cases. For specific legal advice, it is recommended to consult a qualified legal professional. 

Reasonable Adjustments 


Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate neurodivergent employees. These adjustments are tailored to individual needs and may include modifications to the work environment, flexible working hours, or providing specialised equipment. The aim is to remove barriers that prevent neurodivergent employees from performing their job effectively. 


Employers are prohibited from discriminating against neurodivergent employees or job applicants. Discrimination includes unfair treatment in recruitment, terms and conditions of employment, promotions, and dismissals. 

The Equality Act 2010 ensures that neurodivergent individuals have the same rights and opportunities as their neurotypical colleagues. 


Maintaining confidentiality regarding an employee's neurodivergent condition is crucial. According to the Data Protection Act 2018, employers must ensure that any disclosed information is shared only with those who need to know to provide necessary adjustments or ensure safety. This protects the employee's privacy and builds a trusting work environment. 

Equal Opportunity 


Employers must provide neurodivergent employees with equal opportunities for career advancement and professional development. This includes making necessary adjustments during training, performance evaluations, and other career progression activities. Ensuring equal opportunity helps in utilising the full potential of neurodivergent employees, benefiting both the individual and the organisation. 

Anti-harassment Policies 

Creating a harassment-free workplace is another critical requirement under the Equality Act 2010. Employers need to implement and enforce policies that clearly define and prohibit harassment and bullying related to neurodivergence. Providing regular training to staff and management on these policies and promptly addressing any complaints are essential steps in maintaining a respectful and supportive work environment. 

What to Avoid 


To avoid a tribunal when it comes to neurodiversity, employers must avoid the following: 

  • Discrimination: Avoid any form of direct or indirect discrimination against neurodivergent employees, including unfair treatment, exclusion from opportunities, or making assumptions based on their neurodivergent condition. 

  • Breach of Confidentiality: Do not disclose an employee's neurodivergent status without their explicit consent, as this can lead to privacy violations and loss of trust. 

  • Failure to Provide Reasonable Adjustments: Ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to accommodate neurodivergent employees' needs. This includes adjustments to the work environment, communication methods, and support structures. 

Employers must avoid directly asking employees if they are neurodivergent, as this can lead to privacy concerns, potential discrimination, and a breach of trust. 

Instead, employers should focus on creating a supportive and inclusive environment where employees feel comfortable disclosing such information voluntarily. This approach respects individuals' privacy and promotes a culture of openness and acceptance. 

To navigate this sensitive topic effectively, employers can work with experts like me, Tamzin, to implement strategies that encourage voluntary disclosure and provide the necessary support for neurodivergent employees. This ensures that all employees feel valued and understood, enhancing overall workplace harmony and productivity. 

As an Employer, What Can You Do? 

To ensure legal compliance and support for neurodivergent employees, employers must take proactive steps to create an inclusive and accommodating workplace. Key actions include: 

  • Provide Training: Enroll in comprehensive training through The Neurodiversity Academy, which offers specialised courses to enhance understanding and implementation of neurodiversity-friendly practices. 

  • Engage in Coaching: Participate in coaching sessions with Tamzin to help leaders and managers develop the skills needed to effectively support neurodivergent team members. 

  • Consult on Policies: Work with Tamzin to draft and refine workplace policies via the Neurodiversity Academy, ensuring these practices are legally compliant and support an environment where all employees can thrive. 

  • Encourage Open Feedback & Communication: Regularly ask neurodivergent team members what support they need and how the workplace can better accommodate them. 

  • Implement Inclusive Practices: Develop and maintain inclusive practices such as flexible working arrangements, sensory-friendly workspaces, and clear communication protocols. 

By integrating these resources, employers can build a supportive, inclusive, and legally sound framework for their neurodivergent workforce. 



Tribunals are on the rise. Here are some cases due to employers failing to provide support: 

  • NHS Trust: In a 2024 case, an NHS Trust was ordered to pay £20,000 to a candidate after failing to provide reasonable adjustments for an interview, impacting the candidate's performance and opportunity.

  • Buckinghamshire County Council: A social worker with autism and dyslexia was dismissed for giving gifts to children without permission. The tribunal ruled that although the dismissal was lawful, comments made by a manager about the claimant masking her autism amounted to harassment, resulting in a £4,000 award. 

  • Bolton NHS Foundation Trust: An employee was awarded compensation after Bolton NHS Foundation Trust failed to provide reasonable adjustments for her neurodivergent condition. 

  • Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd: The tribunal found that Network Rail failed to make reasonable adjustments for an employee with ADHD, leading to unfair performance evaluations and dismissal. 

  • University of Bristol: An academic with Asperger's Syndrome won a claim against the university for failing to provide reasonable adjustments, leading to unfair performance evaluations and missed promotion opportunities.

Tribunals are on the rise, so we need to get this right. 



Supporting neurodivergent employees is not just a legal obligation but also a moral and strategic business decision. 

By understanding and implementing these legal requirements, employers can create an inclusive workplace that values and leverages diverse talents. 

Supporting neurodivergent employees is not just a legal obligation but also a moral and strategic business decision. By understanding and implementing these legal requirements, employers can create an inclusive workplace that values and leverages diverse talents. 

Four key takeaways for employers: 

  1. Ensure reasonable adjustments: Tailor work environments and practices to meet the needs of neurodivergent employees. 
  2. Promote non-discrimination and equal opportunity: Uphold the principles of the Equality Act 2010 to provide fair treatment and growth opportunities for all employees. 
  3. Implement anti-harassment policies: Maintain a respectful workplace by defining, prohibiting, and addressing harassment and bullying related to neurodivergence. 
  4. Consult with Experts: To ensure all aspects of neurodiversity in the workplace are correctly addressed, work with experts like Tamzin founder of The Neurodiversity Academy. This will help in creating strategies that meet legal standards and improve organisational inclusivity and performance. 

To navigate these legal requirements effectively and develop robust neurodiversity policies, consider hiring a neurodiversity consultant. Tamzin, founder ofThe Neurodiversity Academy can offer expertise in creating strategies that not only meet legal standards but also improve your organisation's inclusivity and performance. 

I’d love to chat, schedule a call with me today. 

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